Updated: October 15, 2021 7:53:50 am
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Thursday wrote to L-G Anil Baijal asking him to call a Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) meeting and give permission to hold Chhath celebrations in public.
Citing the low Covid case count in the city, Kejriwal wrote, “Delhi’s Covid situation has been in control for the past three months. I think we should allow the celebration of Chhath, keeping in mind the Covid protocol. Neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan too have allowed Chhath celebrations keeping in mind appropriate restrictions. I request you to call a DDMA meeting soon and allow the celebrations.”
Baijal is the chairperson of the DDMA, which last month passed directions that Chhath celebrations will not be allowed in public.
Over the past few years, Chhath has gained prominence as Delhi’s Purvanchali population has risen. While it is predominantly celebrated by people from Bihar andUP, others have also started celebrating it in recent times. Over 30% of Delhi’s population, it is estimated, has roots in the Purvanchal belt. Out of the 70 assembly constituencies in Delhi, 16 have a majority of Purvanchali population.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had written to the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, asking him to hold a meeting with experts and pass guidelines to celebrate Chhath. This was preceded by protests by the Delhi BJP and the declaration that the municipal corporations in the city, which are governed by BJP, would make arrangements at ghats to celebrate the festival. On Thursday, members of the Delhi Congress also held a protest outside the CM’s residence.
According to sources, while the government was wary of allowing gatherings, which generally tend to be large, it did not want to anger the electorate months before the municipal polls next year.
“This is why the deputy CM wrote to the minister asking for directions. The CM has also written to the L-G, asking that a final decision be taken in the DDMA meeting,” a party leader said.
Chhath politics in the capital
Recognising that Delhi now has a sizable Purvanchali population, governments in Delhi have been setting up ghats for celebration for several years now. The Aam Aadmi Party government claims to have increased the number of official Chhath ghats from 72 before 2015 to 1,200 in 2019.
Chhath celebrations were not allowed in 2020 because of Covid. While the opposition wants to corner AAP over the issue ahead of municipal polls, AAP is keen on making the Centre or the L-G take a stand on allowing celebrations.
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